Kayak bass event supports wounded vets
Written by: Jimmy Watson
Area kayak enthusiasts have a competitive event upcoming that could land them in prizes, while also benefiting a good cause.
Bossier City’s Bill Rodriguez of the Bayou Pirates Kayak Fishing club will hold a benefit bass fishing tournament Feb. 8 on Lake Caroline at the Red River National Wildlife Refuge.
The fundraiser will support Heroes on the Water, an organization that serves America’s wounded veterans by providing healing and rehabilitating kayak fishing outings that are physically and mentally therapeutic through a nationwide community of volunteers and donors.
“I can’t say enough about the sport of kayak fishing, and I can’t say enough about the Heroes organization,” Rodriguez said. “With Barksdale Air Force Base here, I think it’s very important to get someone involved locally.”
The Louisiana director of Heroes on the Water, Jason Austin, is expected to attend the event in his wrapped truck and kayak, according to Rodriguez.
Rodriguez is gone from the area through his work as a nuclear power plant inspector for weeks at a time, so his employment isn’t conducive to conducting events other than during December and January.
“I’m hoping someone here will fill this need,” he said.
The local tournament will be held out of the new refuge launch located a half-mile south of the RRNWR headquarters, which has an entrance off Arthur Ray Teague just south of the Jimmie Davis Bridge. The tournament entry fee is $20 with all of the proceeds going to Heroes on the Water.
Rodriguez has been collecting prizes for the winners and is still accepting more. He has a gift certificate to Haydel’s Game Calls, a SuperNova fishing light, a hand-carved bone-hook necklace from Florida, lure packs and other gifts. The competition is a catch-photo-and-release event.
Rodriguez calls kayak fishing “a different kind of fishing.” He caught numerous 24- to 30-inch red fish from a kayak on a trip to New Orleans.
“When you catch a fish, they are right up on you. And the kayak allows you to get up into very shallow water,” he said.
Another advantage to kayak fishing is the low cost of getting into the sport. A new craft runs from $500 to $1,000 with few other expenses.
“You don’t have to worry about maintenance or fuel costs,” Rodriguez said. “You are pretty much limitless in what you can do with them. Kayaking is very big in south Louisiana, Dallas and Austin. I’d like to see it grow more here.”